Baby Chewing on Tongue: Should You Worry When Your Baby Chews on Their Tongue?

By Lynn •  Updated: 01/12/22 •  11 min read
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Have you noticed your baby chomping on his or her tongue? Among the many quirks and tendencies babies have, this particular habit often perplexes parents. In this post, we will review why is baby chewing tongue as well as what you can do to make things better.

Baby Chewing on Tongue – Is it normal?

An infant chewing on tongue can, indeed, be normal. 

In most cases, a baby chewing on his or her tongue isn’t painful because if it were he or she would not continue on with it. But in some rare instances, baby tongue chewing may be a cause of concern, especially if the chewing is accompanied with pain and bleeding. 

baby with tongue out

Why do babies chew their tongues?

Baby chewing on tongue: A sign of teething

So, why do babies chew their tongues? Oftentimes, tongue chewing is a sign of teething

When a baby’s teeth are breaking through, the pressure from beneath the gums can be uncomfortable. To relieve the pressure, babies often chew on objects or body parts.

An example of this might be baby fist in mouth, baby chewing on fingers, or, you guessed it, baby biting on tongue. 

Remember that not all tongue biting is a result of teething. However, if your baby is within teething range, (i.e., 3-4 months and beyond), then tongue chewing can certainly be a sign that you’re getting ready to see your baby or toddler’s fresh new pearly whites. 

What does it mean when my baby chews on their tongue?

Infant chewing on tongue? What could it mean?

Depending on the age of the infant, tongue chewing could have several meanings. 

As previously mentioned, tongue chewing may be an indicator of teething, but there are other reasons that your baby could be chewing on his or her tongue. 

One of these reasons is that your baby could be sucking on his or her tongue rather than chewing it. This is most likely the case with younger infants and newborns, as their sucking reflex is still active. 

In this case, your baby may appear to be chewing his or her tongue, but really, he or she is just sucking their tongue. This is considered normal.

3 month old chewing tongue

If you find that your 3 month old is chewing his or her tongue, it could be teething, but he or she may also be using chewing their tongue as a means of comfort. 

You’ll find that many babies find their own self-soothing techniques and this may be your baby’s way of finding relief. 

If your baby is slightly older than 3 months, chewing the tongue may actually be a sign of food readiness. If you believe that your 4-6 month old baby may be chewing on his or her tongue because he or she is ready for solids, be sure to talk to your local pediatrician before delving in. 

Remember, you should never start solids too early. Be sure that your baby is able to sit upright with good head and neck support before attempting to give your baby any soft table foods. 

Toddler chewing on tongue

A toddler that is chewing on his or her tongue may be a reason for concern, but again, it really depends on the reason for the tongue chewing. 

Many toddlers experience teething symptoms as they grow their molars between 23-33 months of age. Like babies that teethe, your toddler may be seeking relief from the discomfort and pressure felt during the teething process. If this is the case, you’ll likely find your toddler biting and sucking his or her fingers along with tongue chewing to relieve any discomfort felt.

To curb this, consider giving your toddler small pieces of ice to suck on or a popsicle to eat. Be aware of large chunks when doing this as children at this age are still susceptible to choking.  

baby with tongue out

Baby Bites Tongue

Can a baby bite their tongue?

Can a baby with teeth bite their tongue? They certainly can. Even babies without teeth can “gum” their tongues if they so choose. Again, tongue chewing is fairly common and generally doesn’t cause the child any pain.

If, however, your baby does seem to be in pain or has managed to bite down hard on his or her tongue while chewing, simply deal with the issue while simultaneously consoling your baby. 

Child biting tongue

While an older child that is chewing his or her tongue may be nothing more than child’s play, a child that actually bites his or her tongue can be painful and cause a lot of bleeding. 

A child that bites his or her tongue has often done so by accident during sleep, an automobile accident or during sport activities.  

Thankfully, mouth wounds tend to heal up very fast, so an injury that resulted from the child biting his or her tongue shouldn’t last long. 

What should I do if my child bites his tongue?

If your child bites his or her tongue, don’t panic.

Apply pressure to the spot where the injury transpired with a clean cloth. If you cannot see the original cut, rinse your child’s mouth out with water first so you can see the injury clearly.

After applying pressure, give your child something cold, like ice cubes, to eat or drink. You can also have your child gargle saltwater, assuming that he or she is old enough to handle it, to help expedite the healing process. 

Remember, children often feed off of their parent’s, or caregiver’s, energy. The more upset you are, the more panicked they’ll likely become. Stay calm and tackle the problem head on. The injury should heal in no time. 

And as always, seek professional help if the bleeding is unable to be controlled. 

Baby sucking tongue

Why does my baby suck their tongue?

You may already know this, but sucking is actually a reflex for most small infants. This means that your infant knows instinctively to suck when something comes near his or her mouth. 

This sucking instinct, also known as the “rooting reflex”, can also be a source of comfort for your infant. It is likely for this reason that you may find your baby sucking on his or her tongue. 

If this bothers you, remember that your baby is likely not in pain. And if your baby is three months old or older, it may be a sign that your baby is about to begin teething. 

If you wish to curb your baby’s habit of sucking on his or her tongue, you may wish to purchase a pacifier or give your baby an age-appropriate toy to chew and suck on instead. 

Baby Keeps Sticking Tongue Out

Baby tongue out teething

If you notice that your baby sticks his or her tongue out often, especially during teething, don’t be alarmed. During the teething phase, babies do all sorts of things related to teething and sticking out his or her tongue can be one of them.

Another tell-tale sign of teething that may accompany your baby sticking his or her tongue out is drooling. If you notice your baby drooling and chewing on objects or his or her hands while sticking their tongue out, then you will likely see brand new teeth emerge very soon. 

Newborn sticking out tongue

A newborn sticks out his or her tongue often in the process of rooting, though this is not always the case.

As previously mentioned, the rooting reflex occurs when babies naturally attempt to “latch”, or suck, on anything that comes close to his or her mouth. When this happens, babies can sometimes be found sticking out their tongues. 

Another reason your newborn may be sticking his or her tongue out? It could be that your baby is in the process of yawning or is just making silly faces at you again. 

All of the previously described activity is perfectly normal and should not be a cause for concern. 

Baby sticking tongue out 9 months

At 9 months, your baby could be sticking his or her tongue out for a variety of reasons. It could have to do with teething, but may also have many other causes. These causes include a disdain for a certain taste or smell or even imitation. Whatever the case may be, it is likely that your little one’s funny faces aren’t any cause for concern.

baby smiling with tongue out

Teething Tips: How to Handle When Your Child Is Teething

  • Keep It Cool: Remember, when your child is teething, one of the best things you can do is give them something cool to chew on. This can be a chilled teething ring, a clean and frozen wash rag or even a frozen treat if your little one is old enough to handle it. Just be sure not to give your child anything cold that isn’t age appropriate, such as ice cubes. These present significant choking hazards.
  • Turn Up the Pressure: Aside from using teething toys and chilled wash cloths, you can also use your fingers to apply pressure to your baby’s gums. This is a cheap and easy way to relieve the discomfort often felt by your baby during the teething process.
  • Be Careful When Administering Teething Medications: Although it may be tempting to resort to teething medications when your baby is in pain, it isn’t always recommended. Unfortunately, many of these medications contain ingredients known to have negative effects on babies and children. Thus, it is a far better choice to offer your baby a cooled teething toy or your finger in lieu of over-the-counter medications. 

Other Teething FAQs

Why do babies bite?

Babies bite for a variety of reasons; it really just depends on the context of the situation and the age of your child.
Some reasons your baby could be biting include: Relief From Teething Pressure, To Gain Attention, To Express Disdain, or When Eating or Attempting to Eat.

How to stop baby biting?

In order to stop your baby from biting, you’ll have to assess the situation.
If your baby is biting for attention, you’ll need to make it clear that his or her behavior is unacceptable. This can be in the form of a “time-out” or other age-appropiate measure to show your child that you mean business. 
If, however, your baby is biting to relieve pressure from teething, you’ll want to give your baby something to bite on to relieve the pressure. These days there are plenty of innovative and effective teething toys that can relieve the pain from budding teeth and keep your child entertained at the same time.

Why is my baby chewing on his hands?

A baby chewing on his or her hands is a classic sign of teething. It is a quick and easy way to keep the pain from teething at bay. You can easily allow your baby to continue this practice, or you may choose to give your baby a clean teething toy or rattle instead. 

Why do babies suck their hands?

A baby sucking his or her hands often happens for the same reasons that a baby chews on his or her hands. Most often, it is related to teething and is completely normal. If, however, your child breaks skin, begins to bleed or seems to be in pain while he or she sucks or chews on his or her hands, be sure to see a pediatrician for tailored advice. 

Why do babies put things in their mouth?

Apart from teething, babies often put things in their mouths in order to explore them. Similar to how we, as adults, learn more about things by touching them, babies often learn more about objects by mouthing them. 
For this reason, it is imperative that you monitor your child at all times and avoid giving him or her objects that are smaller than a quarter and can easily be choked on. 

Baby Chewing on Tongue: Not Typically a Big Deal 

Most of the time, a baby chewing on his or her tongue is not a cause for concern. If your baby seems to be in pain or causes himself or herself injury during the process, be sure to book an appointment with your pediatrician for professional advice. 

Lynn

Lynn is a freelance writer, a wife, and a mother of two beautiful kids. Lynn started Infant Empire with the aim of making parenting easier for fellow mums and dads. She believes the parenting tips provided here will be of great help to all parents.